Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has given a televised address outlining how the country will begin easing its coronavirus lockdown.
Restrictions will start to be eased from 4 May, he said, and people will be allowed to visit their relatives in small numbers, wearing masks.
Parks will reopen, but schools will not restart classes until September.
Italy has endured the world’s longest active coronavirus lockdown, and has Europe’s highest official death toll.
The country has suffered 197,675 cases of the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and 26,644 people are confirmed to have died with it.
The number of cases has been falling, however. Italy reported 260 new deaths on Sunday – the lowest daily toll since 14 March.
Authorities now believe Italy’s contagion rate – the number of people each person with the virus infects – is low enough to justify a cautious easing of curbs.
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Italians have been living under a national stay-at-home order since 9 March, with everyone required to stay within a few streets of their door.
Other aspects of the lockdown easing announced today include:
- People will be allowed to move around their own regions – but not between regions
- Funerals are set to resume, but with a maximum of 15 people attending, and ideally to be carried out outdoors
- Bars and restaurants will reopen for takeaway service from 4 May (not just delivery as now), and food must be consumed at home or in an office
- Hairdressers, beauty salons, bars and restaurants are expected to reopen from 1 June
- Some sporting activity will also be permitted, but without spectators
- Individual athletes can resume training, and people can do sports not just in the vicinity of their homes but in wider areas
There was no announcement on the possibility of Italy’s premier football league Serie A resuming, even behind closed doors.
Mr Conte stressed that social distancing measures would need to continue for months to come.